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Pan-American highway: economic effects after two-week closure – Cali – Colombia

In a humble home in the Pandiaco neighborhood, Marybel Rocío Pachajoa adds fuel to the fire.

She is kneeling in front of the sooty pot, in the middle of the embers, almost at ground level, putting more blocks of wood, some that neighbors have given her and in nearby buildings in this area of ​​the north of Pasto and others that he has taken from an area where there are pieces, in the middle of trees.

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Smoke fills the small kitchen, while she explains that there is no gas or if they sell it, it is very expensive since the mountain collapsed on the Panamerican’s highway, at kilometer 75, at the height of de Rosas (Cauca), that January 9 of this year.

“We are requesting support not only on social issues, but also on economic, public order and environmental issues because these departments have received blows.”

Since then, in these almost two weeks of paralysis of the road for transit and transport of gas, food and even medicine, Marybel had no other option than to resort to firewood to prepare food for her daughter, her grandson who is a baby and her mother, a sick 89-year-old woman.

She and hundreds of Pasto people, as does Olga Lucía Pianda, also in the north of the Nariño capital, are cooking with firewood. It is the cheapest way to face the crisis that leaves peconomic losses already exceeding 1.5 trillion pesos Come in Cauca and Narino.

Even the job offer is beginning to weaken in this region of the southwestern part of the country, because some companies have already announced that the work fronts that they had opened have to close, due to the landslide.

The labor outlook in the region is also becoming critical, the construction sector, which in recent years had shown good dynamics, is now beginning to suffer with the suspension of some works, mainly in cities such as Pasto, Ipiles and Tumaco.

The governor of Nariño, Jhon Rojas, proposed that “the National Government assume the extra cost in transporting gas, food and supplies to and from the department.”

In addition, he urged to accelerate the construction of the San Francisco – Mocoa variant, in Putumayo, as an alternative to speed up transportation, due to endless lines of vehicles with desperate travelers who risk their lives on trails next to abysses to reach Popayán, from there to Cali and then to the interior of the country.

In turn, he agreed with the governors of Cauca, Elías Larrahondo, and of Valle, Clara Luz Roldán, with unions from these departments that the National Government must authorize an economic, environmental and social declaration in this area of ​​the country to obtain resources that enable them to deal with the crisis.

The governor of Cauca, Elías Larrahondo, said: “We are requesting support not only in social issues, but also in economic, public order and environmental issues because they have received blows in these departments.”

You can read: Closure of the Pan-American Highway: the Government’s measures to address the crisis

He emphasized that the Government must strive to solve, structurally, the problems of the region. “Hopefully they will be included in the new ‘Colombia World Power of Life Development Plan,'” she said. “Alternatives are being created, in order to serve the affected families in a relocation not only of housing, but of projects that allow the reactivation of the economy,” said the governor of Cauco.

Faced with the request that the State declare an economic, social and environmental emergency, after the paralysis on the Pan-American highway, the Minister of Transportation, Guillermo Reyes, responded: “It is a request that I will transfer to the President of the Republic (Gustavo Petro) and to the cabinet. What must be said is that the entire Government is working with the Risk Management Unit”.

He assured that the measures are being taken. “What we are asking for is time,” she noted.

In the company Avante SETP (for the Pasto Strategic Public Transport System), which belongs to this municipality, it was reported that due to the total closure of the road that leads from Pasto to Popayán, there is a shortage of supplies and materials, for which reason is forced to suspend all work fronts.

According to the manager of Avante, Lucas Teodoro Ortiz, with the suspension of works, 200 direct jobs that had been created by the consortiums that carry out the works of the entity are affected, while around 2,000 indirect jobs will suffer the same fate in a short term.

Regarding the works that are irremediably paralyzed, he mentioned the Briceño workshop patio, the Chapal workshop patio, the Chapal roundabout, the road construction and renovation of the public space in the township of Catambuco, the installation of covered bus stops and the improvement of the space public in the park of Lourdes.

“Avante will be attentive to the measures established by the National Government to improve the difficult situation in the south of the country,” the official stressed.

From the section of the Colombian Chamber of Construction (Camacol) it was reported that in two weeks supplies stocks in 85 active housing projects are depleted, which generate 9,000 direct jobs and another 22,000 throughout the value chain.

layoffs begin

However, we have increases of almost 300 percent in prices, taking into account the responsibility that poultry farmers have”

According to the executive director of the National Federation of Merchants (Fenalco), Nariño sectional, Eugenia Zarama, a total of eight vehicle dealers would be closing their services in Pasto in the coming days.

“They have already started laying off staff because people It has no fuel They don’t have a way to take their cars, so what are they doing to their workers?” stressed the union leader and added that they are not in Conditions of mobilizing vehicles in structures called nannies because the two roads established between Cauca, Nariño and Putumayo do not allow the mobility of large and heavy trucks and tractor-trailers.

“A babysitter weighs seven tons, but it cannot be maneuvered due to its very structure, that is simply exposing the driver to death,” he commented.

He asserted that several of the owners of stores and businesses in Pasto “are already sending their staff on vacation, having entered the rest season a few days ago.” He added that “there are others who are thinking of laying off staff.”

To face the serious situation that is coming in the labor field, the deputy of the assembly of Nariño, Jesús Armando Eraso, proposed to the officials of the municipal and departmental governments that they present an institutional offer of jobs that are being generated and those that could be lost.

“I call for a summit of senior officials from Nariño in Pasto and that each one present the institutional offer of their dependencies in the face of the crisis we are experiencing,” said the assemblyman.

Another of the hardest-hit sectors in Nariño is the poultry farmer, which already reports a shortage of inputs necessary for the production of poultry, mainly in concentrates, which would impact 2.5 million birds that require it for fattening.

According to a report from the National Federation of Poultry Farmers (Fenavi), in Nariño there are 140 farms for raising chickens and eggs, whose birds need daily between 340 and 350 tons of food that have not been able to reach the department.

The commercial manager of the company Pollo al Día, Álvaro Mejía, considers that efforts are being made to enter the raw material and balanced food from commercial houses through the Mocoa, San Francisco and Pasto roads.

“However, we have increases of almost 300 percent in prices, taking into account the responsibility that poultry farmers have,” he said.

On the high prices of eggs in the region, he attributed them to the entry from Ecuador by smuggling.

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Currently, the price of an egg ranges between 800 and 1,000 pesos.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Cargo Transporters (Fedetranscarga) reported that the cost of freight increased by 400 percent. “We don’t have routes. The affectation is enormous and we see that there were initial efforts, but today there is only the solution of the ‘Swing of death between Nariño and Putumayo,’ said the entity’s vice president, Arnulfo Cuervo.

He explained that the route is an almost impassable trail and in part that has triggered the cost of freight, it is more time and more risk. “It is not the same to travel with a vehicle that can carry 35 tons on a trip, than one that can only mobilize five,” added the manager.

They ask not to start classes in schools

The governor of Valley He hopes that solutions will be presented for the proposed highway and thus the affectation to the economy will be less, an affectation that reaches this region from where travelers from the Terminal de Cali try to reach Cauca and Nariño.

The president of the Congress of the Republic, Roy Barrerassaid that immediate actions are urgently needed in view of the critical situation for the transfer of food, gas and even medicines from Nariño and Cauca by the only arterial route, such as the Panamericana, closed at kilometer 75, since last January 9, when the avalanche occurred.

Due to the isolation of Nariño from the rest of the country, the authorities of this department asked the National Government to suspend admission to classes in the official institutions of the region.

The measure would affect 61 of the 64 uncertified municipalities in the region.

The Secretary of Education of Nariño, Jairo Hernán Cadena, indicated: “We have asked the Ministry of Education to postpone the school calendar taking into account the conditions of our department.”

He said that the request is that the students return to classes on February 6 and not next Monday as scheduled.

The director ofe ProPacífico, María Isabel Ulloa, He stated: “We ask the Government for solutions for the Pan-American highway that are crucial.” He pointed out that this is one of the mobility backbones of the national southwest that should receive more attention. It is hoped that it can be opened as soon as possible.

The director of the Valley Interunion and Business Committee, Edwin Maldonado, said: “We express our concern to the Minister of Transportation, because there is no clarity about strategic projects in the region and we request that the technical table be reactivated to review progress.”

The president of the Chamber of Commerce of Cali, Luis Fernando Pérez, expressed: “It is essential to take into account the precise measures to reactivate the supply in Cauca and Nariño” and hopes that the Government can comply, after having heard the clamor of different sectors.

Loans for companies and entrepreneurs

The parliamentary bench with the governor of this department, Elías Larrahondo, delegates from the Cauca Regional Ombudsman’s Office, social organizations, and trade union and business leaders expressed in one voice: “The existence of communities incommunicado due to the damage to the roads that still have not been evacuated, the inclement weather and the effects on productivity at all levels show a worrying outlook and predict a social and economic debacle in the departments of Cauca and Nariño”.

Therefore, these actors asked the Colombian Geological Service, in the shortest possible time, to deliver technical results on the study carried out in the disaster zone that would allow establishing the reality of the environmental problem that today has isolated the south of the country.

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They also aspire to access credit with technical support and purchase of primary products with companies and entrepreneurs.

These requests were established at the table of the Pacific Regional Parliamentary Bloc that met last Thursday with the Minister of Transportation.

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